Changes in work and culture during the 20th century have created new challenges that must be addressed in order to strengthen our families and communities. While violent crime is at its lowest point in a quarter century, too many Americans still feel unsafe in their communities. And global warming, pollution and the demands of growing populations continue to challenge the quality of our environment.
To address these needs as we enter a new century, President Clinton has announced a number of initiatives that will help create safer and more sustainable communities, and will help us work towards One America.
21st Century Policing Initiative
In order to keep crime coming down to record low levels and the number of officers walking the beat at an all-time high, the President is committing nearly $1.3 billion for a new 21st Century Policing Initiative. The new 21st Century Policing Initiative builds on the President's successful COPS program by:
· helping communities to hire and redeploy between 30,000 and 50,000 more law enforcement officers over five years;
· giving law enforcement access to the latest crime-fighting technologies;
· making an unprecedented commitment to engage entire communities in preventing and fighting crime -- by funding new community-based prosecutors, and partnerships with probation and parole officers, school officials, and faith-based organizations.
Making the Brady Waiting Period Permanent for Handgun Sales
The Brady Law has stopped well over a quarter of a million illegal handgun sales since its enactment in 1993. But the Brady Law's waiting period recently expired, and handguns can now be purchased on the spot in some states. To make sure that local law enforcement officers have enough time to conduct the best background check possible, the President has called for a new national waiting period of up to five days before the purchase of a handgun.
Preventing Violent Juveniles from Buying Guns
The President has proposed legislation to permanently ban violent juveniles from buying guns. The President's proposal would extend the Brady Law to violent juveniles and close the loophole under current law which permits youths convicted in juvenile court for certain violent and drug offenses from buying handguns on their 21st birthday.
Child Safety Locks for Handguns
Many youths have to look no further than their own home to get access to a gun: a third of all privately-owned handguns are left both loaded and unlocked. To address this problem, the President's proposal would require federally-licensed firearms dealers to sell a child safety lock with every handgun -- to help prevent youths from hurting themselves or others.
Livability Agenda: Building Livable Communities for the 21st Century
To help communities across America grow in ways that ensure a high quality of life and strong, sustainable economic growth, President Clinton and Vice President Gore are proposing a comprehensive Livability Agenda providing new tools and resources for state and local governments helping citizens build more livable communities. The initiative includes:
· Better America Bonds: $9.5 billion in bond authority over five years for investments by state, local and tribal governments to help communities reconnect with their land and water, preserve green space for future generations, and provide attractive settings for economic development;
· Easing Traffic Congestion: A record $6.1 billion for public transit, plus $2.2 billion for other innovative programs to promote improved transportation planning and ease traffic congestion so commuters can spend less time in traffic and more time with their families;
· Smart Growth: $50 million in matching grants to help neighboring communities --cities, suburbs, and rural areas -- develop collaborative "smart growth" strategies.
Lands Legacy Initiative
The President has proposed a $1 billion Lands Legacy Initiative expanding federal efforts to save America's natural treasures, and providing significant new resources to states and communities to protect local green spaces. To continue these efforts in the 21st century, President Clinton will work with Congress to create a permanent funding stream beginning in FY 2001. This landmark initiative charts a new conservation vision for the 21st century, preserving irreplaceable pieces of our natural legacy within easy reach of every citizen.
President Clinton has called on Congress to increase support for AmeriCorps the program that has allowed young people to serve our nation while earning funds for college. In the FY 2000 budget, the President is proposing a $133 million dollar increase over FY 1999 for the Corporation for National Service in order to expand AmeriCorps and support other national service programs.
Civil Rights Enforcement
The Clinton Administration's Fiscal Year 2000 budget contains a 15 percent increase over last year's funding for civil rights enforcement agencies. This budget maintains the President's commitment to ensure equal opportunity for all Americans: that no one should be denied such essentials as a job, a home, or a chance at an education because of the color of their skin, a disability, their gender, or their religion.
Highlights of the President's package include:
· a $13 million increase for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice to permit the Division to expand investigations and prosecutions of criminal civil rights cases (including hatecrimes), fair housing and lending cases, and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act;
· calling on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act which improves the enforcement of wage discrimination laws and proposing a $14 million Equal Pay Initiative at the EEOC and Department of Labor.
The Hate Crimes Prevention Act
The Hate Crimes Prevention Act is designed to strengthen and expand the ability of the Justice Department to prosecute hate crimes by removing needless jurisdictional requirements for existing crimes. Further, it would give Federal prosecutors the power to prosecute hate crimes committed because of the victim's sexual orientation, gender or disability.
Helping Adults Who Lack Basic Skills
President Clinton has announced a major effort to help the more than 44 million adults who perform at the lowest level of literacy to obtain the skills they need to succeed in today's economy and to help immigrants more fully integrate into our civic and social life. This effort includes the 10% tax credit for employers who provide workplace education programs for their employees and a new award to recognize "High Skills" communities for their outstanding achievement in promoting adult education as announced by the Vice President on January 12.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act ("ENDA")
This bill is designed to outlaw discrimination in hiring, firing and promotions based on sexual orientation. It is designed to protect the rights of all Americans participating in the job market without fear of unfair discrimination, while specifically prohibiting preferential treatment on the basis of sexual orientation, including quotas. President Clinton and Vice President Gore are the first President and Vice President ever to back civil rights legislation for gays and lesbians.